Marquette University purchased numerous original Tolkien manuscripts in 1957 for 1,500 pounds (less than US $5,000). They now hold most likely the world's largest collection of items relating to J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien wished to visit the University but was held back every time, mainly due to family emergencies.
History of the collection
In late December 1956 or early January 1957 William Ready, the Director of Libraries at Marquette University, is compiling the University's research-related collections and he asks Bertram Rota, a well-known London bookseller if she could approach J.R.R. Tolkien to see if he is willing to sell the original manuscripts of The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. Rota writes to Tolkien and prior to January 10th Tolkien replies. (The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Chronology pg. 498)
On January 10th, Bertram Rota responds to William Ready at Marquette. Tolkien is willing to consider selling his manuscripts but asks what the amount the University is willing to offer. He sends a list of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings material he is considering selling. Rota suggests to Ready a minimum offer of £1,000, however she would like to examine the documents personally before the final decision is made. (The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Chronology, pg. 499)